Pozzi Chimney Sweep Blog

The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Build-Up

Those cool nights of autumn, the freezing storms of winter, and the chilly evenings of spring. All of these are made so cozy by sitting in front of a crackling fire. Getting together with family members or just playing games for a quiet evening in, you gather around the fireplace. However, inside that warm scene lurks a hidden danger: carbon monoxide. It’s important to understand this dangerous gas and the precautions you can take to avoid a tragic situation.

The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Build-Up Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepWhat is Carbon Monoxide

When you burn a fire in your fireplace, carbon monoxide is formed. This gas is colorless and odorless, which makes it virtually impossible to detect until symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning occur. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website states that carbon monoxide is formed when any type of fuel is burned. Whether in your car, furnace, or even your fireplace. If carbon monoxide is allowed to build up in your house, it can cause illness and even death.

How Does Carbon Monoxide Invade Your Home

Today’s homes are built tight. This is great when it comes to paying your energy bill, because a tight home will be more energy efficient. For people who use their fireplace, however, this can be a problem. The carbon monoxide that’s formed when a fire is burning needs a place to escape, which in older homes is not a problem because there are some chinks that give this gas a place to sneak out. With today’s energy efficient homes, that doesn’t happen. If you have a new home, one simple solution is to crack a window slightly when you are enjoying a fire in your fireplace. It is also important that you have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home, do monthly battery checks, and replace the batteries every six months.

Symptoms To Be Aware Of

Whether you take these precautions or not, you can still experience a carbon monoxide build-up. That’s why it’s important to know and take notice of symptoms that can occur if a build-up is present. The Mayo Clinic website lists some of the following symptoms that may indicate you have a problem:

  • shortness of breath
  • confusion
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • dull headache
  • blurry vision

Pets can display these symptoms as well, so if you and/or other living creatures in your home are exhibiting these symptoms, be sure to have them checked out immediately. Be aware that a loss of consciousness can take place in extreme situations; do not let it get to that point because death will occur if not removed from the premises.

What To Do

The best thing to do to avoid a carbon monoxide build-up is to install carbon monoxide detectors and have your chimney cleaned and inspected on a yearly basis by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified chimney sweep company like Pozzi Chimney Sweep. We are educated on the latest regulations and chimney cleaning and inspection techniques, and we are dedicated to giving their customers the best service possible. Now that spring is here, it’s the perfect time to schedule your annual inspection and cleaning!

Mistakes When Maintaining Your Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detector

As with most home maintenance, when it comes to avoiding dangerous fires and/or carbon monoxide exposure in your home the key is to prevent them in the first place. Solid fire safety practices are important, but perhaps even more important than that is to install and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home. Things happen inside the home, and having these detectors can help get everyone out safely should an emergency arise. Smoke detectors are designed to send out a signal when smoke is detected in the home, while carbon monoxide detectors are reliable in signaling before dangerous levels of carbon monoxide levels have been reached inside the home.

CO/Smoke Detector - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney

Of course, the most important part of having detectors in the home is properly maintaining them. Here are some common mistakes when maintaining your smoke/carbon monoxide detectors.

Not Maintaining Your Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Detectors

The worst offense of owning detectors is not maintaining them at all. The work isn’t over once you install them. The batteries must be checked every few months, and replaced on a regular basis. Test your smoke detector and your carbon monoxide detector every few months to make sure they are operating correctly. The National Fire Protection Association and FEMA report that three out of five fire deaths are the result of homes not having working smoke alarms, so make sure yours are operating correctly.

Not Installing Detectors Correctly

Another common mistake is not installing your detectors correctly in the first place. If you are unsure how to install your fire detectors according to the manufacturer’s instructions, ask your electrician for assistance. In many cases some basic electric work is necessary and you want to be sure they are protecting you and your family from installation.

Not Having Up To Date Detectors

A common mistake when maintaining smoke alarms is assuming they never have to be replaced. A good rule of thumb is to replace your smoke detectors every ten years, but if you are not sure how old your detectors are you should replace them anyway. If your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are a decade old or do not respond to tests then it is time to replace them.

Additional Fire Safety Tips

  • Only operate heating appliances according to manufacturer instructions.
  • Use space heaters and other stand alone appliances in open areas free of clutter.
  • Only burn appropriately treated wood. Never burn garbage or other materials.
  • Make sure your fireplace or woodstove have been inspected and swept by a professional chimney sweeping company.
  • Don’t leave candles unattended or near flammable materials.

Pozzi Chimney Sweeps in Illinois are passionate about keeping you and your family safe season after season. If you have any questions about how to keep your home safe from potential fire dangers, contact us to schedule a consultation. Our certified chimney sweeps will come to your home and make sure your chimney and fireplace are working correctly and safely. Proper chimney maintenance coupled with smoke and carbon monoxide detection can help prevent fires in your home as well as keep your family safe.